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Final Day in Abu Dhabi

Written Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 2 is in the books, and I’m trying to pull an all nighter to get readjusted (if I got thrown off at all) back to US Time ; )

Great panel to be a part of- Women in Sports!

Time to shine!! Started the day off on the first panel of the morning- “Time to Play: Women and Sports in the UAE.” The amazing panel consisted of our moderator, Lesley Visser (CBS Sports), Zahra Lari (UAE Competitive Figure Skater), Cameron Myler (4-time Luge Olympian), Mariam Al Omaira (Department Manager of Teams and Sports Events at Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy) and Ted Shaker (Co-Director NYU School of Professional Studies Sports and Society Program). To say that I am so honored and humbled to be among greatness is an understatement. We discussed how we each initially got involved in our respective sports, and the conversation carried over to how to get more young girls and women interested in sports. Zahra is 18 years old and training to make the next Olympics as a figure skater. When she makes it, she will be the FIRST woman to ever represent the UAE in the Olympics. That would be an incredible accomplishment.

The cool thing about the discussion is the commonality we all have with being women in our sports. There are barriers here in the UAE, but we too still face barriers in America when it comes to funding, opportunities, equality, TV time and fan appreciation. But, we have come a long way!! I discussed the WNBA and how in the beginning, and even now, we have naysayers that don’t think that we’ll succeed. We’re heading into our 18th season next year. I would say, that should be measured as a success.. Miriam shared that, for her, the most important reason for the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy is so one day, if she has daughters, they will be able to play ANY sport they choose, and there be quality arrangements made for them. The ironic thing is that I feel the same way with the WNBA.

After our panel, there was a presentation from Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. I knew nothing about sailing and racing until hearing him talk, and now I will definitely get on a sailboat at some point in my life. The passion that he talked with about the boats and the Race that was contagious. We even got to speak with one of the men onboard the Abu Dhabi ship. Super cool!! For more information go to

Live feed from the Abu Dhabi boat! Super cool!

The final panel of the conference talked about Manchester City’s Football Club and how they have, and are continuing to create a successful global brand. Simon Pearce, Sir Howard Bernstein, Martin Edelman and Ferran Soriano took us through their steps of success and building the Manchester Brand globally. My take away from this was putting on my “GM” cap and how to make a brand locally and taking it globally. I feel like the NBA is making huge strides in playing games abroad and being able to market basketball worldwide. To an extent, as WNBA players we are able to do this as well, but it’s different when you bring an actual “team” to a country to host games and give people an inside look to what we are all about .

The people behind Manchester City - Building a Successful Global Brand

When the conference finished, I got an opportunity to hang with a few of the other panelists and the NYU team that was responsible for putting this event together. This was an amazing opportunity and I’m so thankful that they picked me to share it with them. My first experience to Abu Dhabi has left me anxious to return, and even more determined to figure out how to get our young girls engaged in a country where sports has not been a norm. I WILL be back : )

Thanks again to all that allowed this to happen. I’m so honored to represent the US Department and to be a Sports Envoy across the globe. Now, it’s time to pack up and prepare for my journey back home.

God Bless!